Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Censor Slayer's Arsenal

(Paolo Uccello, "The Princess and the Dragon", c. 1470. Don't we all love damsels in distress?)

In Words and Attitudes, I argued that whether a statement or action is offensive doesn't really depend on the content, but on the circumstances and the intentions behind it. To most of us, this would seem like an obvious truth and not even worth mentioning, were it not for the fact that there are people out there who are unable (or unwilling) to acknowledge such differences of context. As if the very existence of such shallow minds wasn't sad enough, many of them even presume to force their daft worldviews on the rest of society. Stupidity and self-righteousness is an especially annoying combination. For some strange reason, they frequently seem to go hand in hand.

Anti-BDSM crusaders are a fine example. I never met a single one who had a real argument to make. Their entire case is based on purely subjective feelings and preferences, unwarranted claims and sloppy over-simplification. It all collapses once the facts are put on the table. Needless to say, that doesn't deter the zealots in the least - they are determined never to let facts get in the way of personal prejudices. It's a bit like arguing with a conspiracy theorist who believes that the Apollo moon landings weren't real. No matter what rational and conclusive evidence you bring forward, they just keep babbling on and on, repeating the same old lines as if they hadn't been debunked a thousand times already. So we still have debates about BDSM promoting "violence against women" and all that nonsense.

Actually, the fairy tale about kinky pictures "causing violence" is often employed as the main angle of attack, because it embellishes the anti-BDSM movement with a noble aura - the goal of preventing crime and protecting society. So let's examine it in some detail. I do this purely for my own personal amusement. I realize that I'm preaching to the converted here. The pro-censorship crowd doesn't read my blog, and even if they did, they wouldn't be convinced. But I just love to see half-baked ideas crash and burn. If they insist on repeating the same old arguments, why shouldn't we? The only (and very significant) difference is that our arguments are better.

Their claim always comes down to this, in one form or another: "Violent porn encourages violent behaviour." To start with, I don't care for the "violent porn" label. BDSM among kinky adults is consensual, therefore it isn't violence in the true sense of the word. You could use the adjective as a purely superficial description, like when we say that boxing (another consensual activity) is a "violent sport". But even that is a bit of a misnomer. At best, it means that BDSM isn't any worse than rough sports, which are perfectly legal and regarded as unobjectionable in most societies. As well as that, BDSM films aren't necessarily pornographic, but that is another story.

Let's concede the terminology for the sake of the argument. The more important point is that "violent porn" simply doesn't encourage violent behaviour. Years and years of scientific research haven't produced anything to support this sweeping generalization. It is true that such media might influence a very small number of individuals who already have a strong disposition towards violence. Proponents of censorship cite cases of rapists and sexually motivated serial killers who watched pornography and claimed that it was responsible for their actions. Even if we ignore the fact that sociopaths are habitual liars and notoriously unwilling to accept responsibility for their own actions, this poses three questions:

1) Can it be said with any certainty that they wouldn't have committed their crimes without the "aid" of pornography?

2) Why do rapists and sexually motivated killers also exist in societies where porn is not available?

3) Why does the vast majority of porn viewers never turn to violence?

So far, supporters of censorship haven't managed to address any of these questions convincingly.

Even if you believe that violent porn could have a minor, contributing influence on a small number of disturbed individuals, it doesn't justify censorship laws that would restrict the freedom of millions of law-abiding citizens who pose no threat to society. Moreover, porn isn't the only thing that might excite a sick mind. Ted Bundy, one of the worst serial killers in history, not only collected pornography, but cheerleader magazines as well - the sort that 12-year-old girls get in the mail. If you start banning things on the vague notion that a sociopath might find them arousing, there won't be any media left before too long.

If anything, the empirical evidence that exists seems to undermine the argument. Sex crimes aren't more frequent in countries where pornography is freely available than in those where it is illegal. Japan, where vicious "rape fantasy" porn is highly popular, has one of the lowest sex crime rates in the developed world - in fact, it actually decreased as porn became more widespread. So the evidence does not only fail to support that violent porn encourages violent behaviour, it points in the opposite direction.

Leaving the aforementioned doubts aside, it could be asked why pornography is singled out. Why not ban all violent media, like mainstream horror films? Why not ban boxing matches and martial arts contests while we're at it? Of course, there are people who would love to do just that. But their main obsession seems to be with erotica. Is the alleged violence the real issue here, or is it the fact that we have to endure the sight of nudity?

Usually, they counter by saying that the problem lies in the combination of violence and pornography. Horror films are fine because "they aren't produced for sexual arousal". This is a curious argument. Who can prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Eli Roth did not intend Hostel to be arousing? Anyone who has done a course on aesthetics knows that the "intentions" of an artist are very shaky ground for a theory, let alone law-making.

Moreover, what does the mindset of the artist have to do with anything? I thought we were talking about the potential influences on the viewers, and those could extend beyond what the creator intended. What if I watch Halloween and get an erection when Mike Myers kills all those girls? Let's say the writer and director didn't want that, but isn't it just as bad? Logically speaking, we would have to ban all violent media because someone, somewhere might find them sexually stimulating.

Lastly, let us ignore everything I have cited so far and concede the whole argument. Let us say, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that violent porn encourages violent behaviour and that we should get rid of it. In this case, I suggest that we also immediately ban 1) religious materials and practices, and 2) alcohol. The actions of Al-Quaeda and countless drunken fistfights, both of which occur on a daily basis, show that these things also encourage their fair share of violence. Actually, in light of the evidence, the case against them is much better than the one against pornography.

Now, you might say that only a small handful of religious people ever turn to terrorism, that this is not representative of the vast majority. But apparently, a few extreme cases are enough to make the whole thing objectionable. Just as with violent porn, right?

No, of course not. The old canard that "violent porn encourages violent behaviour" is hogwash, pure and simple. It doesn't have a leg to stand on because there is no empirical evidence. It is also highly self-contradictory because, if you actually follow the logic of the pro-censorship crowd through to the end, you come to various conclusions that they don't support. Or claim not to support - I believe that, in truth, many of them would like to outlaw horror films, for instance. Which is probably the next target if you let them get the foot in the door with pornography.

But never fear, the facts are on our side. If you suffer the misfortune of meeting a zealot, you have the arsenal. Just put the arguments on the table. It won't shut them up, of course. But it will show the undecided vanillas out there that it's the censors who are irrational and dangerous - not kinky people like us.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cheese of Hearts

Sometimes, good ideas hide in the least likely places.

Wasn't that a painfully banal statement? All surface and no substance? I thought it would make a fitting introduction for the 1984 thriller / love story Thief of Hearts. I don't recommend watching the movie. It is a terrible, tedious, trivial affair. Produced by Jerry "Armageddon" Bruckheimer. Written and directed by Douglas Day Stewart, who must also bear responsibility for the equally vacuous (and highly overrated) An Officer and a Gentleman. Need I say any more?

Actually, the one thoroughly positive thing about "Thief of Hearts" is that it destroyed Stewart's career. It was bitterly panned upon release, and for once I am in complete agreement with the mainstream critics. The script is a cliche-ridden crime / romance soap opera that makes "Miami Vice" look like Ingmar Bergman material. The characters are one-dimensional and the pacing is dull. Most of the actors appear comatose, and I can't blame them. The soundtrack is a cheesefest from start to finish, with ditties like "Love in the Shadows" and "Passion Play". Dated 1980's fashion, hairstyles and music abound.

Enough condescension, you get the picture. I am not here to make fun of a bad movie simply for the sake of it. That is an enterprise for lazy minds. No, my reason for mentioning "Thief of Hearts" is that, underneath the crushing ineptitude, there lurks an immensely powerful idea. So strong that, in spite of itself, the film somehow attains a strange appeal. I keep it in my collection to this day.

Here's the plot: there's a rich San Francisco couple, he a successful author of children's books, she an interior designer and trophy wife. One night, their mansion is robbed by a cat burglar. Mistaking them for jewelry, he also takes a box containing the wife's private diaries. It turns out that the burglar, played by Latino heartthrob Steven Bauer (best known as Al Pacino's sidekick from Scarface), is a sensitive and lonely guy. So he starts reading the diaries and falls in love with the wife. The juicy detail here is that she's recorded all of her secret, steamy erotic fantasies, stuff that not even her everyman husband knows about. In the journals, she has created an alter ego by the name of Michelle, who gets to live out all the passions and romances that her real self, Mickey, can only dream about.

I suppose you're curious now, so allow me to indulge you with an excerpt. Prepare to be disappointed, though:

"Water. I love water. I was born near the water and used to sail all the time with my dad. I spend every minute I can in water, in my bath usually. Water washes me clean, water is sexual, water is healing. He takes me to the water. A huge yacht like a castle. The sun is hot, intoxicating. The water undulates under us. My resistance drains away. His body is strong, his face is beautiful. He touches himself, rubbing lotion into his skin. I feel him enjoying his own flesh. His mouth is suddenly on my neck and moving over my shoulder, encircling my breasts. His tongue slides down my stomach. I'm melting under the sun..."

Gee, that was wild. Allow me a moment while I pause and wipe the sweat off my brow. As a clueless male, I wonder: do flesh and blood women really fantasize about pedestrian crap like yachts and sun lotion? I mean, honestly? Sounds more like the shallow imagination of a Hollywood hack to me. As well as that, "undulate" is not a verb used by normal human beings in their journals.

Needless to say, the burglar is irresistebly attracted by the lady's carnal daydreams. I can see why! He arranges to meet her in disguise and uses his inside knowledge to seduce her. An affair ensues, but I'm not giving any surprises away by mentioning that she stays with her husband in the end. The bourgeois order is restored. Yawn.

Horrible execution, but what a concept. Magnificent potential. Someone stealing your diaries and reading about all your secrets. I'm an avid journal keeper, and there is something incredibly violating about the idea, but also an undeniable fascination. I suppose there is an exhibitionist streak in everyone who records intimate details (which is why we have blogs). Even if we only write for our own eyes, there is something revealing in the act itself, the expression of private thoughts and feelings, the dialogue with ourselves.

Actually, it happened to me once. Someone snooped into one of my journals for no apparent reason except general curiosity and breaking a taboo. Sadly, it was a guy, and a dumb, annoying one at that. No fascination there, it just pissed me off mightily. He was a very insecure character and I think he may have been looking for something negative about him. Ironically, the only bad things I ever wrote came after that incident, which caused me to terminate our fragile friendship. I had never really liked the clown, anyway, he was an acquaintance of my girlfriend at the time. Another member of the local BDSM community, so that part of my diary couldn't have been a surprise to him.

But what if it had been an interesting, likeable personality? We seem to be more willing to tolerate transgressions from those. Say, a woman, sharing my kinky disposition, intelligent, sense of humour, nice girl, but she just can't help herself when there's a diary lying around. Isn't exploratory spirit a positive attribute when you come to think of it? Of course, I would have given her the thrashing of a lifetime for the indiscretion. But if she agrees to that, why not forgive and forget. At the end of the day, I would have found the whole affair rather stimulating.

My other fantasy stays closer to the "Thief of Hearts" original. In real life, of course, I'm much too clumsy for a credible cat burglar. But that doesn't stop me from making the story my own. In my version, the wife's erotic musings are a little more unorthodox. Like, being flogged in the middle of the town square. Who better than me to enter into her life and make those visions come true? And no, she doesn't go back to the children's book author in the end.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Movie Review: South American Vacation

Mood Pictures (released in 2008)

Entire Story In Fewer Words Than Are In This Sentence:
Tourists are caned and whipped

Victim Appeal:
Seven Hungarian girls get a healthy dose of corporal punishment. I won't describe them all in detail, but each one is good-looking and has a few lines of dialogue. The acting is average but not atrocious, and there is enough story to empathize with the victims.

The video is about a group of female tourists who are arrested for drug use. It opens with a strip search of one girl, then another girl talking to their lawyer, then all of them in their cell as they await trial. The following courtroom scene is fairly long, with a lot of scolding from the female judge and statements from all the tourists. The defence lawyer hardly says a word, which is fine by me - we all know where this is going, anyway, right? Some girls plead guilty and get a lenient treatment, others make a nuisance of themselves and receive a more draconian verdict. Not a single acquittal, of course.

It also goes without saying that all of them choose to commute their prison sentences, ranging from one to ten months, to corporal punishment (that option exists in the "South American country" where it is all taking place, though we never learn which country).

Gratuitous Sadism:
Large cast, lots of action. In the opening strip search scene, the girl gets her rectum examined, black glove and all. In the cell, another one urinates on the floor (she's not allowed to go to the toilet) while the rest of the group avert their faces in embarassment. After these humiliating appetizers, severe thrashings are on the menu as the main course.

Let me get my notes so I can remember this correctly. To begin with, the two girls who plead guilty get 10 cane strokes each. The third one gets 50 because she made a pass at the medical examiner to get the test results changed - how naughty! Next up, whippings. Three tourists who plead innocent get 50 lashes each to teach them how the local justice system works. And for the grand finale, the ringleader: she also had the audacity to plead not guilty, she gave the other women the drugs, and she had a violent outburst in the courtroom. 50 cane strokes and 50 whip lashes ensure that no repeat offenses will ever occur. Or maybe she'll just never travel to South America again, I don't know.

Best Reactions:
C.C. Graf, the model who gets 50 cane strokes. We never actually see her trying to seduce the medical examiner, and it's hard to imagine such a scene - the girl just looks incredibly annoyed and sullen throughout most of the movie. A lot of evil looks for the judge, the caner, the caner's assistant, everyone... However, that eye-rolling "Whatever!" attitude imbues her character with a certain stubborn, defiant pride. I love that.

Miss Graf (any relation to Steffi?) is also the most restrained during the punishment. Not a lot of screaming like some of the other ladies, but a sequence of delicious, half-suppressed gasps and yelps. Her facial expressions progress from grim determination to desperate hope that the ordeal won't get any worse, that maybe the next stroke won't be as hard as the last one. Most of all, she glows with the refusal to lose her dignity. She does cry in the end, of course. Just a little, before angrily wiping away the tears with her arm. Good stuff.

Best Line:
"Your honor, I would just like to apologize on behalf of my defendants." That is the only line the lawyer utters during the trial! He looks more frightened than the girls, actually. Did the judge beat him into submission before the proceedings started? And if so, why don't we get to see it? In any case, I find it hilarious.

Nice Psychological Touch:
I liked how the girls themselves decided to commute their prison sentence to canings and whippings. It's the sort of "semi-consensual" scenario I enjoy a lot.

How Good Is It Really?
The movie runs for over 80 minutes, and most of it is taken up by the CP scenes. You can easily figure out that it is not about intricate drama and character development - this is the equivalent of "wall-to-wall gonzo" porn. However, "South American Vacation" does offer an interesting scenario idea and has a nice brooding athmosphere during the buildup scenes, so it's not all about chicks getting thrashed. Of course, severe thrashings are the main attraction. If you are into that, it is an awesome video.

What You Learned:
If I were in the tourists' shoes, I would commute my sentence to corporal punishment, too. Hell, I'll take 50 lashes by Mistress Larissa over six months in the joint any day! Then again, I'm a pervert. I'd make sure to plead not guilty to get a harder sentence...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Careless Cyclist Caned

Last Sunday, we had nice fair weather in Munich. Riding the tram on my way to Josephine, I could see a lot of cyclists on the road. What a pity, I thought, that she hadn't bought a new bike after her accident. True, she was probably safer this way, but talk about a lost opportunity! I could have ordered Josephine to carry the bike up to her flat and bend over it. Palms on the saddle or on the handlebar? Whatever, it would have been a novelty. Too bad.

Still, a more conservative approach had its own advantages. I had been very busy with university studies, launching the blog, lots of other stuff - this would be my first session in over half a year. It was probably better to stick with the tried and true methods this time. I wondered about my accuracy with the cane. You can't help but get a little rusty. Then again, I had practiced a lot with a cushion, so I felt quite confident. There was no need to overdo the severity, anyway. Josephine hadn't played in a long time herself. Even a moderate thrashing would make a lasting impression. I could just take things easy and see what happens, experiment a little.

In a way, it felt like our first session again. Josephine and I first met at a munch, one of those normal pub evenings for kinky people. We liked each other and, after a few phone calls and regular dinners, started playing. Back then, she needed help with an English essay - Josephine enjoys that sense of reality in her sessions. I'm more of a role-player and wasn't sure that I would be right for her, but she liked my style. She wants a top who takes charge and just edcuates her as he sees fit. Her fantasy is to be fully in someone's control, no nonsense, no wiggling out. At the same time, that someone has to be compassionate and a trusted friend.

When Josephine asked me to be her motivation coach for the economics studies, there was a silent undertstand between us that I would take care of other issues as well. Anything I deemed important, just like the old times. Her bike accident and the fact that she had kept it secret from me for so long was a good occasion to remind Josephine of the order of things. And to talk some sense into her about careful riding.

After I arrived at her flat, the first thing I did was check the cane. She had put one in the bathtub, as ordered, to make it smooth and flexible. I didn't begin the session right away, though. That was never the plan - I just wanted everything to be ready. First, we chatted for about an hour while Josephine showed me her homework and talked about the past week's studies. She seems very enthusiastic about the course, especially marketing and, as unbelieveable as it sounds, accounting. Not my cup of tea at all, but I was happy to see the girl in such a good mood. Learning is the easiest thing when the subject excites you.

Just keep it up, I said, and you will be just fine. You won't even need my extra motivation to pass the exams, and no one will be happier about that than me. "Will you be proud of me?" she asked. I stroked her cheek: "Of course I will be proud of you! I always am." I made a pasuse. "Now, about that other thing - your bicycle antics. Let's get that over with, shall we?" Josephine nodded quietly as her expression turned somber.

I instructed her to fetch the cane and strip down to her underwear. Then, as she was kneeling in the corner of the room, facing the wall with her hands above her head, Josephine had to tell me all the details about the accident again. Typical for her, she tried to explain it away: "It wasn't all that bad." It sounds quite different from the last version, I mused. Wasn't the doctor very clear on how close she had come to serious injury? Josephine shrugged: "The guy was just trying to impress me! He was a sadistic doctor!" I shook my head in annoyance. Some young ladies never learn. But I knew from the old days that there were reliable methods to get Josephine's attention. In her case, it just took a little more than kind words.

While she was recounting her story, I noticed that she took one of her hands away from her head. She was kneeling next to a shelf of CD's and started cleaning it. I was in no mood for her little games: "What the hell do you think you're doing?" Josephine protested: "There was some dust there..." I gave her a hard slap on her bottom, which turned her focus back on the matters at hand: "Okay then. Since you refuse to listen to your doctor, you will have to listen to me." I made a few practice swings with the cane, letting it swish through the air. Josephine was very quiet all of a sudden. I couldn't see her face, but there was no need. It is a beautiful thing, the silence of nervous anticipation.

I grabbed her hair and ran my fingers through it, wondering: "Was it painful, the accident?" Josephine nodded violently. I suppressed a grin: "Too bad that you didn't get the message. Now I'll have to make this even more painful for you, as it seems..." Knowing that Josephine tends to squirm a lot, I added: "One more thing. I want you to hold perfectly still. If you have to flinch after a stroke, that's fine. Can't be helped. But while I aim, you will be like a statue. If not, I will repeat the stroke. And if I get too annoyed, I will start over from the beginning." She assured me that she would do her best.

I ordered her to get up, remove her underwear and put her hands on a chair. Not quite as good as bending her over a bike, I found, but a fine classical punishment position. Fully nude, too... "How many am I going to get?" she asked. I told her that I hadn't decided yet. I would give her sequences of ten and she would repeat a particular line after each one. Josephine gave me a confused look: "Are you going to count, then?" I sighed loudly: "No, I'm not counting. You get the stroke, you say the number, then you say the line. That's not too complicated, is it?" Sheesh, I thought! Time to stop the pleasantries and get serious!

So I gave her the first ten. The line was: "I must not ride my bike too fast." I didn't hit hard, but it was not a warm-up, either. After all, I had already done that during practice at home. The accuracy was fine. Once you have learned how to apply the cane, you never really forget. It comes back to you very quickly. I suppose it is a bit like riding a bike. If you pardon the little pun.

While the feel was the same for me, the results were slightly different, in a pleasant way. Josephine doesn't mark too easily, but it was obvious that she had not been caned in a long time. The first few, moderate strokes were enough to produce a nice set of red tramlines. Satisfied, I added the next sequence. The sentence: "I must not hang my bag on the handlebar." That is what had caused the accident. Another ten lines on Josephine's bottom. Her gasps and moans confirmed that she was beginning to appreciate the significance of this. Content with my aim so far, I decided to fire off a proper, hard stroke at the end. She rewarded me with a painful yelp and a rather strained: "Ten! I must not... Hang...!" Hang what? "My bag on the handlebar!"

I gave the Fräulein a brief pause while I contemplated the upcoming part: "You didn't see a doctor right after the accident. So that is what I'm going to teach you next..." She didn't agree: "I can't run to the hospital after every little thing!" I reminded her that falling off your bike at God knows what speed and getting knocked on the head is not a "little thing". Not when you shift one of your vertebrae. It was better to be safe than sorry, so the line was: "I have to see the doctor after an accident." Josephine was still talking back: "But Ludwig...!" My hand pulling gently on her hair convinced her that it was wiser to shut up.

So I started the next segment. After our little banter, she forgot to count the first one and I had to repeat it. Eleven strokes in total, fairly hard ones this time. Her reactions became louder and more agitated. Gorgeous marks, a few darker, raised welts in addition to the previous weaker lines. Josephine didn't feel like arguing anymore. Instead, she meekly wondered how many more she would get. "A few" I said while I assessed the results so far. "There are still some missing in the lower half..."

As she had kept the whole story secret from me, fearing that I would make a fuss, the fourth lesson was: "I should have told you about it immediately." Against her will, Josephine broke into nervous laughter: "Oh no! These will be severe, right?" Submissive gallows humour. I told her not to ask for answers she already knew. Ten vicious strokes followed, one of which produced my favourite reaction of the session, a fairly desperate: "PLEASE!" I calmly reminded her to call out the number and the line, which she did.

Josephine had obviously had just about enough, so I decided to give her five more, without a sentence attached, and that would be the end: "Just count, and think about what you learned today." She noted that it was an odd total. Amused, I wondered if she would prefer another ten instead. Josephine was quick to point out that it wouldn't be necessary. On second thought, 45 seemed like a perfectly reasonable number. I did the last five, and that was it. Clenching her teeth after the final one (another magnificent stripe), she started to take her hands off the chair, but quickly jolted back into position. I smiled at the narrow escape - in one of our previous sessions, Josephine had discovered that it was not a good idea to stand up before I had given permission.

I took some time to ogle the fruits of my labour. They were truly beautiful. The caning hadn't been excessive, but fairly severe towards the end. Definitely some good welts, a few of them noticeably raised as I ran my fingers over them. Still, I wasn't happy. One of the 46 strokes (if you count the one repetition) had landed a little higher than I wanted. Not a catastrophic miss, but certainly too high. Awful, it almost ruined the whole thing. I was beating myself up over it all evening. Josephine didn't mind, but I couldn't look past that stray stroke. A lot of cushion practice lay ahead of me.

However, I was pleased with how still she had been during the punishment. Well, before the strokes, anyway. At least that little threat had worked. I put my hand on her head and stroked her hair: "And the next time when you are riding a bike..." Josephine interrupted me with bubbling enthusiasm: "I will be careful!" Exactly, I nodded, and allowed her to get up. She hugged me and smiled: "You were really worried about that, weren't you? That's sweet..." Of course I was worried, hence the very deserved thrashing.

Before I left, we had dinner to round out the evening. Judging from Josephine's pained expression as she sat down, her contrition was genuine, and my efforts were not in vain.

(Picture courtesy of Girls Boarding School. Some resemblance to lovely Josephine. Similar figure and hair. The marks looked about the same, too. Except for the one that went too high. Grrr...)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Perils of Josephine

Three weeks ago, I had lunch with a kinky friend of mine. Let's call her Josephine. It was a most agreeable affair. We hadn't seen each other in a long time and there was much to talk about over Italian food and wine.

Josephine had recently enrolled in an economics course and needed someone to impose discipline on her: "I know myself. I will probably slack off halfway in the semester. If I'm afraid of a beating, it will be easier to get up and go to class every day." She said I'm the strictest top she has ever played with and wanted me for the job: "Because you won't be too soft on me. You will do whatever you think is necessary." That was a very lovely compliment. How could I say no to such flattery? Needless to say, I agreed to act as her personal motivational coach.

I wondered, would she tell me truthfully about every negligence on her part? Yes, she nodded: "I will be honest, and I feel that just the threat of you being there will be enough, actually. I know how hard you hit with that cane. I'm not too keen on finding out again..." Good, I said, let's hope you are right. Because if you miss as much as one class, you won't be sitting comfortably for quite a while.

So far, Josephine's efforts have been impeccable. She attends every course, is fully focused and does her homework diligently. However, a different matter has now come to light that will require a rather serious heart-to-heart chat. The story gets a little bizarre here. I wish it were another April Fools' Day joke. But it isn't.

I discovered a neck collar in Josephine's flat. Not the "slave" variety, but the kind used by orthopaedists. Out of general curiosity, I wondered what it is. Some new medical fetish? "No, I had to wear that after my accident last year" she mumbled. "No big deal. Didn't I tell you?" You know bloody well that you didn't tell me, I said, and questioned her further. As it turns out, this is what had happened:

She was riding her bike to the grocery store one day. Without a helmet, as usual, and with her bag hanging from the handlebar. And wouldn't you know it, Josephine discovered that a handbag caught in the front wheel will bring the bicycle to a sudden stop. She was going very fast at the time, too. Apparently, the force of the accident was such that the bike flipped over several times. As did Josephine, before a hard landing on the asphalt.

She got up, dazed and bleeding, but didn't feel that it was necessary to visit a doctor. There is nothing they can do at the hospital that she can't do herself! You see, the girl has a stubborn streak, a trait all too common in kinky young ladies. So she simply walked home, carrying the completely wrecked bike, and put some disinfectant on her abrasions. Her neck felt very sore, and she went to bed early.

(Anonymous spankable cyclist - not the real Josephine!)

When Josephine woke up the next morning, the "soreness" (and a strange itch) had spread all the way down to her hands. She decided that it might be a good idea to seek medical advice after all. Looking at the X-ray, the doctor asked: "What is it you want to do next year, study economics? Yes, that is what you said. Well, do you think you can do it - in a wheelchair?"

Noting her expression of sudden shock and despair, the man went on: she had shifted one of her upper vertebrae. It would be alright, they could fix it, no permanent damage. However, in the doctor's opinion, Josephine had come "this close" (imagine the gesture with one millimeter of space between the thumb and index finger) to being paralyzed for life. Not from the waist down, mind you, but from the neck down. She had been extremely lucky. They put her neck back in position, and that was it.

The doctor was quite angry and scolded Josephine in no uncertain terms. She had been very careless and stupid, riding her bike so fast, without a helmet. Refusing to seek help right after the accident. He made her promise that she would never - ever! - do something like this again. Because the next time, she would probably kill herself.

Actually, according to Josephine's description, the doctor must have been outright furious. He was a good-looking man in middle age, and despite the seriousness of the situation, she couldn't keep her mind from wandering off: "I almost expected him to put me over his desk and spank me at any moment! He was so mad..." She gave me a sheepish look: "It was a silly thought to have at the time, but it would have been a perfect kinky scenario."

While I sat there listening to the whole story, I grew more incredulous with every revelation: "Why did you never even tell me about the whole thing?" Josephine hesitated. "Well... You are so over-protective, anyway. And I know that you think I'm too reckless sometimes. I was worried that you would throw a fit over it..."

Throw a fit. Imagine that. Just because she almost kills herself. I didn't know what infuriated me more. The accident itself, because it wasn't her first close call. The girl is just irresponsible! Or the fact that she had kept it from me for half a year. True, we hadn't seen each other, but we had been on the phone many times.

On the outside, I was calmness personified: "I see. Well, so that's what the collar was for. Right!" The conversation moved on to other things. I left later that evening. Inside, I was already plotting the necessary educational steps. I like to take my time with decisions like these, think about what will yield the best result. In this case, I felt that a buildup, allowing her to dwell on the upcoming punishment, would be better than thrashing her straight away.

That was a week ago. Yesterday, I called Josephine to arrange for our regular Sunday appointment, when she reports to me about the progress of her studies. At the end, I said: "One more thing. When I arrive tomorrow afternoon, I want you to have a cane in the bathtub, in the water. Nice and flexible so I can use it right away. We're going to talk about how you are supposed to ride your bike."

There was a pause before Josephine's meek reply: "But I don't have a bike anymore..." I had to grin, but calmly repeated my instructions, a little more threatening this time: "Did you get that, Fräulein?" Yes, okay, she said, and I hung up.

So, later today, I will get to practice my right arm again. It has been too long, anyway. The doctor didn't flog her, but I'm making up for lost opportunities. Rest assured, I'm determined to make it more painful than the accident itself. It's a good thing that Josephine doesn't have a bike anymore. In the coming days, she wouldn't be able to sit on it, anyway.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Movie Review: Stalin

Lupus Pictures (released in 2003)

Entire Story In Fewer Words Than Are In This Sentence:
Communist schoolgirls get a sample of "capitalist education"

Victim Appeal:
Four lovely Czech women are severely caned in this intricate and rather humorous production. Katerina Tetova is the heroine of the story, set in 1950s Czechoslovakia. She plays Bozenka Novakova, a pioneer (the Party Youth movement) and daughter of an executed Trotskist. The other girls are pioneers as well. It is discovered that they have defaced a newspaper photograph of Stalin, adding a full beard and a Christian cross to the image of the Soviet leader. The pioneers insist that it was just a harmless prank while they were discussing Marxism and religion. But the school authorities, lead by the local political commissar, smell a "reactionary conspiracy". Since the girls are suspected of holding anti-Communist views, it is decided that they should experience a taste of the "Western capitalist ways" - that is, a thrashing with the cane.

All victims are gorgeous and have shapely, spankable bottoms. The Party Youth uniforms are cute, too. I like the red scarves. Eye candy aside, there is also some good acting. The meek and fearful demeanor of the girls adds nicely to the athmosphere. Each pioneer, including the minor roles, gets to say a few lines. It's always refreshing to have a full cast of characterers in a spanking movie rather than mute props. Makes the beatings all the more pleasurable to watch, doesn't it? Speaking of which...

Gratuitous Sadism:
Each girl gets a healthy dose of the cane. A female teacher carries out the punishment while the comminssar and the headmaster of the school watch. As the ringleader, Bozenka is chastised twice, at the beginning and at the end of the session. She is fully nude while the others get to keep their shirts on. The movie info by Lupus claims that each caning consists of 50 strokes, but I counted slightly different numbers: 49 (Bozenka), 45 (1st pioneer), 42 (2nd pioneer), 49 (3rd pioneer) and 46 (Bozenka reprise). But apart from pedantic Germans, who is going to complain? The strokes were not called out aloud, and we all know that it can be difficult to keep track once the adrenaline of a scene starts flowing.

In typical Lupus fashion, the canings are fairly severe and leave wonderful decorative marks, especially on Bozenka. After almost 100 strokes, her bottom is covered with angry, dark red stripes. Afterwards, the girls are made to remove their scarves as a sign that they have been expelled from the pioneers. Bozenka is taken away by agents from the state security - her ordeal will continue in "Stalin 2".

Best Reactions:
All girls have vocal and fairly similar reactions. After a lot of thoughtful hesitation, I would have to pick Jitka Mala, the blonde who plays the second pioneer. I'm a little surprised by my feelings here. Jitka flinches and trembles a lot. More than once, the headmaster has to admonish her to get back in position and hold still. I usually hate it when a bottom's reactions interrupt the flow of the punishment to such an extent, so this is a very odd choice for me.

But in Jitka's case, I find the commotion strangely arousing instead. Probably because it appears very genuine, without a hint of exaggeration. She just can't help herself - the caning goes some way beyond her comfort limit, and for an unapologetic sadist like me, that is fun to watch. In spite of her twitching, Jitka sincerely struggles for composure, which makes the scene even sweeter. With each stroke, she lets out a suppressed howl, sounding like a baby goat sometimes. It's pitiful and, therefore, great entertainment.

Best Line:
The overeager political commissar is the most amusing character. A pathetic zealot and opportunist, he churns out line after line of trite ideology, like a brainwashed automaton. It's hard to pick the best one. My favourite moment is probably when he admonishes the headmaster: "Comrade, you must keep your dialectic materialism attitude."

Nice Psychological Touch:
While the commissar is gung-ho and uncompromising, the headmaster and the female teacher are more sympathetic. Both do their best to placate the fanatical communist and get a bit of mercy for the victims. It's interesting to observe everyone's reactions while one of the girls is caned. Her comrades awaiting their own turn. The commissar as he gleefully looks on. The headmaster, who just seems unenthusiastic and eager to get it over with. Corporal punishment settings with an audience are always exciting, and the dynamics are very nicely captured here.

At the end of the film, it is revealed that Bozenka was right about one of her claims: as a young man, Stalin studied at an Orthodox seminary. It's a device often used by Lupus, reminding us that the hapless girls are the heroines here, while their main tormentor is either lying or ignorant.

How Good Is It Really?
As always, Lupus Pictures go to great lengths to create an authentic period setting. A lot of detail went into the props and costumes. As always, the girls look good and the canings are hard. However, what really stands out about "Stalin" is the almost perfect blend of brooding 1950's iron curtain drama and comedy. There aren't many obvious laughs, but the subtle absurdity of the whole scenario is palpable: how the authoritarian "system", personified by the political comminssar, responds to a trivial prank by the pioneer girls with unabated hysteria. Tragic, outrageous, funny, and of course entirely believable.

"Stalin" was followed by two sequels, both of which are more elaborate and a lot darker. But arguably, the first film is the most successful at capturing the everyday oppression of the time. It takes place at a "harmless" school, not in the dungeons of the state security, and even though the ordeal of the girls is less brutal in absolute terms, it seems more poignant in this setting. Highly recommended, both for the CP action and the story.

What You Learned:
I knew that Stalin was Georgian and that his real name is Jugashvili, but the tidbit about the Orthodox seminary was new to me. As a historian, I appreciate that. Kudos to the werewolves - you never know what you might learn from a spanking movie.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Interview: Adele Haze

After my little April Fools' Day prank, it is time to resume the usual, brutally honest blogging. The best medium to delve deep into the truth: an interview. This month, I am talking to Adele Haze. Hailing from Eastern Europe, she now resides in the United Kingdom as a graduate student and spanking model. Adele has worked with British producers like Northern Spanking and Bars and Stripes. Last year, she starred in an epic by the notorious Czech werewolves Lupus Pictures.

Adele hasn't done as many shoots as some other models, but what her work lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality. In addition, her blog Spanking Model Speaks is a wonderfully rich resource of kinky thought. With such an interesting mind as my subject of study, I am proud to present the first ever interview with Adele Haze.

The very first post on your blog is titled A Spanking Model at Work. You describe a shoot and end with the words: "The crew makes a fuss over us, and I slowly glide down from the endorphin high. But I don’t let myself come down too far: I have a video to make next. Change outfit, touch-up make up. Plait hair." That was two years ago, and here you are, still busy. What keeps you going? In other words, what is the main appeal of being a spanking model, for you?

Adele: On the one hand, you could say that I'm chasing after a perfect spanking video. When I first started reading and watching erotica, I realised that none of the films I saw pushed my buttons in exactly the way I wanted. Therefore, to get my kinky fix, if you like, I would need to write my own stories, act out my fantasies in my own films, and hope that the hard material copy would end up close to the glorious pictures in my mind. My spanking modelling is a way of playing out my fantasies, and having some pictures to play back afterwards.

On the other hand, I like digging in people's brains, figuring out what makes them work, tickling sensitive spots. Creating an erotic work that somebody enjoys, that gets under somebody's skin, gives me a powerful rush. I'm interested in how sexuality works, and making spanking films has turned out to be a great way to study it, not least because people hear me being open about my quirks and fancies, and become willing to open up to me in return Obviously, I didn't discover this until I had modelled for some time. Initially, it was all about fantasy fulfilment. The rest came later.

Before we touch on how you got into this line of work, let me go back a little. You live in England, but you originally come from Eastern Europe. Can you tell me which part, and when you left?

Adele: I come from a former Soviet Union country. I've moved here in 2002, I think.

Many nations used corporal punishment in the old days. But for some reason, spanking and caning in particular are often called "the English vice". Do you have a theory on why that is? Is there really a stern headmaster inside of every Englishman, who gets off on punishing cheeky girls? Or are they not all that different from the rest of the world after all?

Adele: If there was a headmaster inside every Englishman, I wouldn't have so many single friends in search of a man to spank them! Seriously, though – and I'm thinking out loud here, because I've never really questioned it before – it has something to do with corporal punishment at schools not having been outlawed until very recently. Even if it wasn't part of your personal experience, you grew up very aware of its existence. And that's the thing about kinks, isn't it – if it's around, it's somebody's fetish.

Most CP fetishists discover their unusual interest at an early age. We often know "who we are" and what attracts us before we have any erotic experiences, let alone knowledge of terms like "BDSM". Is that true for you as well?

Adele: Yes, and it actually took me some years to realise there was anything unusual about it. As a little girl, I was convinced that everybody had fantasies of being punished, and I was really surprised when my friends didn't want to play them out with me. I don't remember a time when I wasn't interested in spanking, although it took me some years to put a name to the desire.

Could you be a little more specific about these early fantasies, about the scenarios or types of punishment? Was it all about spanking or were there other fetishes involved? And were there any stories that inspired you, in books or movies?

Adele: The first fantasies were about spanking in a family environment, because that was the sort of thing I heard being talked about. Then, as I learned to read, started to watch films and so on, I started to place my imagined self into any scenario where a punishment would be plausible. A Victorian schoolgirl, a Roman slavegirl, a serf. Mentor/charge fantasies have always been my favourite. Tom Sawyer and David Copperfield were the main inspiration for me, and I'm still cross that Becky Thatcher got away with what she'd done.

Did you have any non-consensual experiences with corporal punishment, at home, for instance? You just mentioned that it was all fantasy, so I guess it wasn't the case?

Adele: None at all. I dropped heavy hints with my parents that spanking would be really effective if they felt like using it, but they laughed it off.

Eventually, you found people who did want to play along and shared the same kink. When was your first spanking and how did it come to pass? Most importantly, what were your feelings at the time?

Adele: I got a computer for my 18th birthday, and I was posting to online spanking message boards within months. I met my first spanker on such a board. We corresponded for a while, and then he invited me to stay for a few days. He tried to tell me that we didn't need to do anything if I didn't want to, and I remember thinking: "Are you insane? I came all this way to be spanked, and I'm getting a spanking, dammit." I was bubbling with glee, and couldn't get enough.

When you started modelling, you named yourself after the character Adele Varens from Jane Eyre. Now, Adele's experiences in the book are somewhat different from Jane's. Rochester pampers her with gifts whenever he returns from his travels. Then she gets Jane as her governess, and later on, she is sent off to boarding school. Why did you find her character more interesting? Why not "Jane Haze"?

Adele: Quite simply, I've never fancied myself as Rochester's lover. He is a bit of a bastard, so Jane can have him. I'd much rather have him as my adopted father, even if he was unattentive towards Adele, and largely incompetent at being a dad. I also rather like the idea of Jane as my governess.

The other part of your name comes from Dolores Haze, the girl from Lolita. Ageplay seems to be your most beloved fantasy. What excites you about this particular fetish? It must be more than the fact that you are barely 5 feet tall!

Adele: When I role-play, I see myself as a girl who is, on the one hand, free from the complexities and implications of adult relationships, and on the other hand, denied choices in how her life is run. She is somebody else's reponsibility. She gets told what to do. It's the ultimate non-consensual scenario for me, and non-consent is what pushed my buttons.

Not too long ago, the Spanking Art Wiki ran into trouble. It wasn't about ageplay, but about the fact that they posted some pictures of real, actual children in a history article. Personally, I thought it was a stupid thing to do, because it opens the door for all sorts of misconceptions about who we are, even if the pictures themselves aren't erotic at all. I'm interested in your opinion. What did you make of that controversy?

Adele: As far as I understand, the images in question were legally licensed for public use, but I thought it was unethical for the Wiki writers to use them in an adult context. There is no way for the kids in the pictures, or for their guardians, to have given truly informed consent for the pictures to have been used to illustrate this article. It was not illegal to use them there, but legality didn't make it right. The host was unnecessarily paranoid to have taken the Wiki off even after the pictures in question had been deleted, but in the end, it's their server and their party.

Apart from ageplay, what other scenarios do you like most? Do they all evolve around "being in someone's care", or are there totally different story elements that push your buttons in a major way, too?

Adele: Being in somebody's power, legitimately or not. I like being a prisoner, or a kidnap victim, or a slave. Any of these will do, as long as my character is not consenting.

Since this is your first interview, there is also the old standard question I have to get out of the way: do you have any favourite spanking implement or position?

Adele: I like the intimacy and helplessness of the hand-spanking over the knee, particularly if the spanker happens to be tall, and I can't reach the floor with my feet. This makes me feel deliciously vulnerable. If I'm after pure sensation play (and sometimes, I don't need a role-play scenario to have a good time), I will usually pick the cane.

Let's stay with the physical aspect. You have a very interesting post on your blog where you write: "I don't like pain. I just like suffering." You need pain to get to the right place in your head, because you want to see yourself lose composure, break down and cry on film. So it seems that while you don't like the pain itself, you enjoy watching yourself in it. I find this very interesting, because it seems to be similar to my own feelings.

Adele: I may disappoint you with this answer, but this isn't quite it. Watching myself doesn't do anything for me. I do need to get into the helpless, suffering place in my head, as you say, but doing it on camera is more about showing it off to others – having a witness to the suffering if you like - than about having a record for myself.

You also mention that one of your favourite spanking positions is across the table from another girl, holding her hands. And in Girls and Boys Spanked Together, you dream of being in a F/MF or M/MF movie where you get thrashed "alongside a nice-looking lad". There seems to be a sort of empathy or, shall we say, camaraderie in suffering at work here that turns you on immensely. Is that what it is, the idea of suffering together?

Adele: In part, yes it is. Also, I'm a bit of an emotional vampire, feeding off other people's catharctic experiences. Call it indirect sadism, or simple voyerism, or whatever, but when I'm punished side by side with somebody else, I experience both sympathy with their suffering and pleasure from it. Sometimes I'm quite happy to be present at somebody else's punishment without being involved myself. My friends worry that I feel left out, whereas I'm just being lazy and selfish, drinking up all the emotions without doing any work myself.

Speaking of submissive camaraderie, you and Niki Flynn were starring in The Red Reformatory: Old Friends by Lupus Pictures together, which was very severe. Niki told me that, when it came to the choice of who was going to cane you, you really wanted to explore your limits and selected Pavel Stastny. For someone who professes to have a love / hate relationship with pain, you seem incredibly determined to push the envelope. How do you look back on that shoot now, almost a year later?

Adele: Actually, I asked for Pavel because I knew from watching his videos and speaking to Niki that he was a very safe and precise caner. Using the cane takes skill, and if I was going to get caned harder than I ever had before, I was going with the most skilled caner I could find. So it may look like bravery – or foolishness – but I was actually protecting myself from straying strokes.

The Lupus shoot was a dual role-playing experience for me: on the one hand, I was playing a victim of the communist regime, and on the other hand I got to play an actress, with all the props, direction and scripts and so on. That in itself was a treat. I was surprised how long the marks from that caning stayed; I have done no professional work since, bar a couple of parties. But I'm just about healed now, and I can't wait to go back.

You have several posts on your blog that proudly proclaim: "Watch me suffer!" With pictures of your contorted face. To play devil's advocate: in light of all of the above, could it be said that, rather than a bona fide masochist, you are really a sort of auto-aggressive sadist? Who just loves to watch herself in pain? I'm going out on a limb here...

Adele: Oh, no, the "watch me suffer" business is more of an expression of exhibitionism and long-distance whore tendencies. I could put it as: "I know you readers like to look at pictures of girls in pain, and I like that you do, so watch me suffer." If that makes sense.

You certainly seem to have a sadistic streak somewhere. Holding another girl's hands while she is getting thrashed, for instance - that is a very intimiate position, the front row seat for you. And you like male submissive videos, too. Are you a switch? Have you ever tried playing as a domme?

Adele: Oh yes, I switch. My dominant fantasies are completely different from what pushes my buttons as a spankee. When I top, I enjoy a much wider range of BDSM activities than just spanking role-play. As much as I don't like pain for the sake of itself, I enjoy causing it to willing victims, and as much as submitting to somebody else doesn't attract me, I enjoy being worshipped. I'm not an experienced domme, but I'm a very enthusiastic one.

What do you do when you are not a spanking model? Are you a student?

Adele: Yes, I am. I'm in the last few terms of graduate school.

What sort of books and movies do you like? And what other hobbies do you have that aren't kinky in the classical sense?

Adele: I'm a speculative fiction fan – science fiction and fantasy to non-geeks – and I watch and read it obsessively. My main interest has always been in storytelling, in all the various ways humans use to tell stories. I love theatre, and ballet, and exploring the Internet. All of it is coloured by kink for me insofar as the stories I most enjoy are kinky, but I like taking them apart and seeing how they work. My favourite book right now is "To Kill a Mockingbird". And not just because it has a spanking scene – though that helps, of course.

When I read your blog, it strikes me how often you mention mainstream films and TV series, music videos, computer games, exhibitions of erotica, "Sadomasochism on Broadway"... You seem to be interested in a remarkably wide range of artforms and media. Many CP enthusiasts are, because we tend to be creative, imaginative people. But the scope of awareness is rather outstanding in your case. Was it always like that with you?

Adele: Yes, it has. Growing up with no source of kinky reading or viewing other than what I could pluck out of the ether (good old Tom Sawyer!), I've become very sensitive to spotting even the mildest erotic overtones in mainstream media. As I grew older, I've become interested in how sexuality is portrayed in the media. What is OK to show on TV and what isn't? What's a saucy music video, and what is filthy, dirty, no good porn? What do vanilla people think of us pervs? I like to keep an eye on that.

Final question: in the beginning of the interview, you described how your main motivation for being a model lies in chasing that elusive "perfect spanking video". If you ever reach that goal, how would the result look?

Adele: I don't expect ever to reach that perfect result. Frankly, if I knew what it had to look like, I would have shot it by now. I'll just keep experimenting, and see what happens.

I will be watching. Thank you very much for the interview, Adele.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Kinky Siberian Holiday

(Lake Baikal in the springtime)

Dobry den! Good day! I've been trying to improve my feeble Russian skills lately. It took a lot of planning, but now I can officially announce that I will get on a plane to Moscow this afternoon. The rest of my semester holidays will be taken up by a voyage across the Motherland.

I always wanted to visit Moscow, so this will be my first stop. I plan to see the Kremlin, the Red Square, the Bolshoi Theatre and all the other famous sights. And, if everything goes well, you will get a world premiere on this blog, the first ever interview with the makers of Discipline in Russia. I contacted them a few weeks ago, and while it seems that they don't have any new shoots for a while, the producer said he would be happy to talk to me. I'll bring along a taser and a can of pepper spray just in case. You never know with the Russian mob.

If I'm still in one piece by next week, I will board a train on the Trans-Siberian Railway. That is another lifelong ambition of mine, a dream come true for any historian. There will be a few short stops along the way. The most interesting one awaits me in Novosibirsk, where I will pay a visit to Dr. Sergei Speransky, the inventor of "therapeutic caning". I wrote to him, too, pretending to be a psychology student, and what can I say, they just love guests from the West! So I'm going to chat with this doctor at the Novosibirsk Institute of Medicine, and maybe I can even arrange a little "demonstration" for me. Preferably by one of his female assistants. They claim that the cathartic endorphin rush is bigger when you are flogged by a person of the opposite sex, but in all honesty, I didn't really need a scientific study to tell me that.

With that little interlude behind me, I will probably have to stand upright for a few days while the train takes me further east. I'm looking forward to a walk along the shores of Lake Baikal, one of the most beautiful natural sights in the world. And maybe a swim if temperatures permit. Finally, by early May, I will arrive in Vladivostok. After a short flight to Seoul, it will be time for a trip to the infamous Seodaemun Prison. The site is now a museum and showcases many interesting torture devices used by the Japanese during their occupation of Korea. Once I emerge from the catacombs, I will return to Munich via London Heathrow.

Sounds like terrific fun, right? Can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to my Kinky (Trans-) Siberian Holiday. I certainly deserve it after the recent university exams, not to mention the work on blogging and corresponding. Speaking of which, I hear that the internet connections in Russia are a lot better than one would expect, so I'll try to hook up my laptop and keep you in the loop.

Right, the bags are packed, the taxi to the airport arrives in a few hours, I'll be off soon. Dasvidanja!